Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Activists groups press for the implementation Rapu-rapu Commission's recommendations

May 22. 2006

*Activists groups press for the implementation Rapu-rapu Commission's recommendations*

"Malacanang will be doing a greater disservice to the country if it would not swiftly implement the recommendations of the Rapu-rapu Fact Finding Commission. By issuing statements negating the findings and conclusions of the Commission, it exposes itself to be a mere lackey of Lafayette Philippines Inc (LPI) and other transnational mining companies in the country," says Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony (DP). DP is a broad multisectoral alliance campaigning against the large-scale mining projects of the should not dilly-dally on the mining issue in Rapu-rapu island.

The Commission interviewed key officials of the mining company, the government, academe and NGOs. It scrutinized the mining related studies of the UP-Natural Science Research Institute (NSRI), the Center for Environmental Concerns- Philippines (CEC), the Philippine Institute of Pure and Applied Chemistry (PIPAC), the UP-PGH Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources (BFAR), the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research (INECAR), Department of Health and other government agencies.

"What is it in the report that is unscientific and without basis? Is it not enough for the Arroyo administration that Lafayette was found willfully violating environmental safety standards, falsifying legal documents and cheating the government of taxes to revoke their mining agreement?," asked Concepcion.

"The anomalies the Commission discovered in the operations of Lafayette Mining, is enough grounds to review the Mining Act of 1995. The commission is not out of bounds in its recommendation to review the law. It is in fact, another reminder for it to finally make real the public commitment made by President Arroyo, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, and Executive Secretary Michael Defensor to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last February. The fact that the Mining Act's 11-years of implementation failed to revive the ailing industry, rehabilitate and
or prevent several mining disasters like in Marinduque, Negros, and Rapu-rapu is a basis not only for its review but for scrapping it," says Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan-PNE.

"The permanent closure of Lafayette and moratorium of mining in Rapu-rapu will eliminate the "clear and present" danger obtaining in the island. It is high time for the government to put first the welfare of the environment and the people before the interest of foreign mining companies. It should likewise put into motion the other recommendations of the Commission,
particularly, setting up of a People's Health and Environmental Protection Fund, conducting comprehensive health impact assessment, compensating the mining disaster victims, and rehabilitating the island ecosystem, added Bautista," ###

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